tv [untitled] December 6, 2010 5:00am-5:30am PST
from us, so just give yourselves a round of applause. we are american indians. we are at city hall, and they are going to listen to us. [applause] i am deeply honored to be asked to say a few words on behalf of nathan. i have no nathan for many years. he and his father and i played basketball together in the 1970's, but i also know about the struggles they then had to overcome in his life, the disappointment, the hurt, and the pain. it is something that a lot of our children and young adults are going through in this community as they grow up.
as elders and as adults, it is our responsibility to turn to these children and young adults and lit them up and encourage them to be proud of with a our as american indians, to learn their culture and traditions. those dancers that came out here this evening, give them a round of applause because that is our culture and our tradition. it is continuing. that is a drum. recognize them because they are carrying on that from that brings them together. a couple of weeks ago, i was sitting around with richard, and we were at a community event, and we were looking at each other, and i said, "wears all the elders?" he said he did not know.
then, we broke out laughing because we are the elders. when you become an elder, there are certain responsibilities that you have. i'm very proud of nathan, what he has accomplished and what he has overcome in his life. you can see him at powwows or sobriety runs or other events in our community, and the first one to raise his hand and volunteer to help out is nathan, and we know that. nathan has this gift, that gift that he has learned from his ancestors that you cannot continue to take out of community. you have to give back to community. nathan, my nephew, i wanted to say how proud i am of you and how honored i am that you asked me to speak on your behalf.
you are a good man. you walk that path. be strong. on behalf of the community, i just want to say thank you for all you have contributed to our communities. my nephew nathan. [applause] nathan is a true modern warrior who has really overcome incredible challenges, so please join us in honoring him right now. [applause] >> kqed, thank you.
i'm kind of surprised at this all. i just keep trying to do what i do and help people. that is what i was taught. you earn your keep and stay busy. keep moving, but smiles on people's faces, make them happy? -- make them happy. happy that we are alive and caring for each other. we watch over each other. and their families. they are supposed to be doing that. being not selfish but open hearted and giving and caring for one another. loving mother earth every day
sign up to sun down, but i just have a little piece of something i wrote down from my perspective, i guess, so here goes. i want to thank the community for this award. i see the strengths and weaknesses that need to be focused on, and to address the problems that our community will face in the future. as a member of the san francisco clinical consortium advisory committee, i have learned about diabetics, hepatitis, hiv and aids, combined with the alcohol and drugs can destroy a community to its core. i want to thank the friendship house, the native american aids project, native american health centers throughout the area for their dedication to these health issues and their impact on people on a daily basis, especially our mothers and children. i hope they can continue to have the support and care that they
podium joaquin torres. he will introduce our second honoree. >> good evening. on behalf of mayor gavin newsom, thank you for being here tonight. it is a great honor for me to be here tonight to celebrate with all of you our local heroes. i just want to recognize tosean elsbernd and supervisor ross mirkarimi. thank you for being here to celebrate with us tonight. on to our next local hero. it is my pleasure to introduce our second honoree, michael durant. michael joined the indian health center as a substance abuse
prevention counselor. he was promoted in -- to department director. he earned his master's degree at san jose state university. he completed his undergraduate work in history with an emphasis on native american studies at the university of california at santa cruz. he was previously employed at the center for training and careers as a center for youth services, and after 18 years of substance abuse and several years of incarceration, michael decided to dedicate his life to helping youth and adults find alternative ways to deal with substance use. michael is of apache-chicano and dissent and said this very thing -- "understanding my culture has helped me understand my identity." those words could not be more true, michael, and john would
like to say a few words about michael. if i could invite you to the podium please. [applause] >> it is a pleasure for me to represent the indian health center of santa clara valley. we are so thankful to kqed, the mayor's office, and the other organizations that have put this event together. i know it takes a lot of work, a lot of planning. there are a lot of last-minute items that have to be taken care of, so all those who were instrumental in getting this organized so we could be here tonight to recognize our heroes.
when i think of michael, i think of the work he does in the community. not just his job, but the counseling office, which is so very important to the people, but to provide those extra things. michael has been instrumental in spearheading many different activities for the youth for the community. as you can see, family is very important to michael.
it is part of what michael is. john. >> i'm a good friend of mike's. from my perspective, he is my best friend, and he asked me to speak for him, and i'm really honored to do that. maybe not speak for him, but at least introduce him to you. i used to be a teacher, so before i gave a lecture, i always had to know what the first paragraph was that i was going to say because that told me what i wanted to accomplish, and it has been hard for me to come up with a paragraph or sentence on this one because i knew i did not have too much
time, and there is so much i would like to say about this man, so what i really wanted to say to you is he is the most humble and honorable, the most honest and most comfortable man in his skin that i think i have ever known. i could tell you story after story about him to prove those words. his family is always with them, and they are just the finest family i know. his kids are really special. he leads a life that takes him lots of times from home where he has to go and help the community, and whenever it they can, the family is with him, but he has a partner who supports him, who gives him -- who
understands that the life that he is -- the community has thrust him into is one that requires a lot of patience and understanding. i have watched him on the indian health center, and the thing that a special about him is he brings indianness to the center. he works hard to make -- to keep it from becoming just a health center. he is a healer. i have watched him work with young men, young women, and to me, a healer is somebody when you interact with somebody, at the end of that interaction, the person is stronger, growing more towards being who they are, what their potential is, and time
after time, i see that with mike, see him having that effect upon people. that, to me, is one of the highest things that i could say about him. i just want to stop this because he says i talk too much, but i should be able to do that because i'm talking about him. i just want to tell you one story. i was talking to him one morning, and he said he was really tired. i asked him what was going on. he said he got called up -- i might be a little bit off on the numbers, but got called up at 6:00 in the evening, just when he was ending work, and somebody that we know asked him to come and sing for his grandmother, who was passing on to the spirit world, so he said he was really
tired, but he had to go, so i loaded up and went. i asked where that was. he said modesto. so he left from san jose and went to modesto and did what this community asked him to do. and then return home to his family late at night. that, to me, it atomizes mike -- epitomizes mike. our community does not say go off to college and become a sacred man. our community just recognizes that when they see it. mike is that man. he never asked to be in the role he is in now, but the community has asked him. so it is with the greatest tumbled as, like i say, it is just an honor to be able to present him to you.
but to me, he is a spiritual, special man. he will always say he is just an ordinary man, but he is, and he is my friend. [applause] >> please join us to be recognized, michael. let's give michael a round of applause. [applause] >> i was hoping that don would take up all my time. i want to thank everybody for coming out, sharing the day with us. thank you, kqed for giving me an
opportunity to put a suit on because i hardly ever wear one. i also want to thank -- or actually congratulate mayor gavin newsom for getting elected to lieutenant governor and jerry brown and all those other people that ran. a couple of days ago, on november 2, a friend of mine was elected to the 20th assembly district, and at one of his fund raisers, he gave me credit for getting him involved in community organizing, and that is when we were back in community college. he was a wrestler, and you know, we talked and got him involved in some different activities. today, he is a lawyer and also the 28 assembly district member. but when we interact with people or we need people, we do not know what is going to happen, why we came together, or what that result is going to be.
some people are going to be sharing -- this is a long road where we are at today. i do not want to go too much into my history because my kids are here and i do not want them to know everything about me, but today, we try to present a different way of life for them. the first time that i indulge in substance use, i was 8 years old. i was released from prison in 1989. pretty much lead that type of a life. i had the opportunity to go back to school, and i got my master's degree, and i'm the director of the indian health center, but through all that time, i was walking the spiritual path -- actually, the creator put me on the spiritual path because i
could not do it myself. again, we do not know why we are here. we do not know why we do these things. all we can do is be thankful for what we have and what the future holds for us. i want to thank you for the work you have done because it is the work you do that inspires us to continue going forward. i want to thank john for the recommendation and don for coming up here and speaking, and for my kids. as i was saying earlier, as i was growing up, we were exposed to a lot of substance use, so what we try to do now is expose the kids to a lot of positive things. my daughter was dancing earlier. mike's daughters were in there. they all have different exposure, and hopefully, that
-- to the san francisco giants. i am the executive director of the native american house center. we provide medical care, dental care, family child guidance, and we also have hiv testing and a medical department. one thing about our organization, we have promoted healthy living among the native population here in the bay area. we also have the community center in richmond. a large population of native americans has allowed us to extend our services. we will be building a brand new clinic in san francisco. the clinic will be located near the friendship house association of american indians. it will be one-stop shopping for
the clinic. one of the things i would like to talk about, we talk about the clinic and the services they provide. we have been reforming health care to native americans. we will continue to do that and we appreciate your support as we build our new clinic for the native american population. it is my pleasure to introduce the third honoree. they are enrolled member of the great nation of montana. she is a great wife, sister, mother. the teacher and practitioner of
cultural traditional wellness and spirituality. she has worked in various roles at the native american health center in san francisco. some of these roles include hiv outrage, medical assistance, and prevention work. she has had critical roles in spirituality and practitioners. she helps the agency address complex needs. they are reaching, finding, and assisting those most vulnerable. the most essential healing element is developing and fostering positive relations with community building activities, cultural arts, spiritual practices, community gatherings, and many more.
she has guided inner-city, urban native youth to develop life, leadership, and interpersonal skills. she continues to work with the community in a good way. congratulations. [applause] at this time, i would like to introduce nelson from the department of public health. [applause] >> good evening. mayor newsom, the native american health center, the
native american aids project, and all the friends and family that are here this evening. on behalf of the great nations on whose land we stand upon today, i want to welcome you and thank you for being here this evening on behalf of my sister aurora. please allow me to speak on behalf of my sister. my name is nelson jim. i come with you -- to you with great feelings of the navajo. it is really an honor for me to be here, specifically, very pleased to speak on behalf of my sister. i have worked with her for many
years. i just want to say that the issue that faces our community is huge. the challenge could be something like david and goliath. the issues that aurora had to deal with, the friendship house association of american indians, all the other programs that serve native people are huge. so are some of the challenges that we are faced with. we have the lowest life expectancy. 500% higher for tuberculosis. american indians have the highest rate of diabetes and other americans 195% higher. native americans have the highest rates of alcoholism. suicide is one of the highest
health disparities that impact our community. access to treatment and care is the lowest for native americans in san francisco alone. they are clearly underserved populations, the city and county of public health. one of the key issues to really underscore is why we're here. we're healthy, but we're here. i think one of the other important things to point out, it is not all american and alaskan natives. we have a post-colonial stress disorder. we don't come to city funded programs and therefore we must
not exist or we are very healthy. that is not the case when you look at all of the other statistics. in talking about all of these health disparities, one of the key things that we helped speak to that we demonstrate when asking for funding, what is that we have to show need -- one is that we have to show need. we have statistics and numbers that really impact whether we are going to get funding or not. it is very clear that we have a lot of health issues. we also have to demonstrate and talk about, maybe explain how to address some of these services. if you do some